Thursday, July 21, 2011

God is Good, part 3, or On Peeling a Sunburn

I went to the beach on Saturday with my sister and a mutual friend of ours. I've been lifeguarding so much this summer that I have a fairly decent tan, though, as I've been telling people it's not my cute suit tan. Well, after this Saturday, I no longer have a guard suit tan. I have a cute suit sunburn that is turning into a tan.

Now why bring up a sunburn? Well, I started peeling yesterday. And because I started peeling, I started thinking about snakes and their shedding their skin. The way my brain works, I automatically started thinking about my favorite part in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third book in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis. Many of you probably have already guessed which part that is. As it is, I'd like to put some of it here.

Eustace has been turned into a dragon, and when he appears at camp a boy again, he tells Edmund what happened. How a lion found him and let him up a mountain to a well where Eustace thought he could bathe and soothe the pain of the golden arm band that was hurting his dragon arm because it was made for a human. Eustace tells Edmund,

"The water [in the well] was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.

"I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

"But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

"Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, o dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

"Then the lion said -- but I don't know if it spoke -- You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know -- if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off -- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there I was smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me -- I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on -- and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment."

The thing I love about this, is that Eustace says that when he was peeling of his skin it didn't hurt him. He only felt proud of himself. But when Aslan (because we all know the lion was Aslan) went and undressed him it hurt like crazy, but Aslan only had to do it once. It probably would have taken Eustace just about forever to get to the point that Aslan did in one go.

The whole moral of all this peeling is that, no matter how much I try to change myself and recognize my sinfulness by myself, I won't be able to change. It takes Aslan sinking his claws into my selfishness and sin to make it go away, and it probably will hurt like the dickens, but it's the only way forward. In the end it's good. Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is Good.

For that, if only for that, I am glad I got burned and started peeling. God is good.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in love with this metaphor! So appropriate for summer, and of course sinfulness and redemption is always topical! Thank God for... well, GOD! love you.